Gabriel Bella, Fat Thursday Festivity in Piazzetta, 18th century
(Venice: Querini Stampalia Foundation)
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Press release (11 January 2017) from NOMA:
A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s
New Orleans Museum of Art, 16 February — 21 May 2017
Curated by Giandomenico Romanelli
The grandeur of Venice comes to America’s most historic city in A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s, an exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art. NOMA is the sole venue in the United States presenting this exhibition of objects providing a glimpse into the pageantry, ceremony, and extravagance of Venetian life in the eighteenth century.
“It is with great pleasure that NOMA brings this remarkable exhibition to our public. Venice is presented through an elegant, multi-disciplinary installation featuring an exceptional selection of objects, costumes, and paintings that illuminate an extraordinary time in the history of Venice,” says Susan Taylor, Montine McDaniel Freeman Director at the NOMA.
A Life of Seduction illuminates Venetian life and pageantry during the century of Casanova, Canaletto, and Tiepolo. Visitors will see objects depicting the opulence of the time, when the city was a cultural mecca. Eighteenth-century carnival masks, costumes and robes, shoes, handbags, and regal glass objects are displayed among exquisite paintings by Canaletto and Guardi. “A significant strength of this exhibition is its historical and cultural point of view and the distinctive range of objects that tell the story,” says NOMA Curator Vanessa Schmid.
Fittingly, A Life of Seduction arrives in New Orleans at a time when parallels between the two cities are apparent, just before Carnival and the spring festival season. Guest-curated by the former director of the Civic Museums of Venice, Giandomenico Romanelli, the exhibition presents four themes: A City that Lives on Water, the Celebration of Power, Aristocratic Life in Town and Country, and the City as Theater. The festivals and celebration unique to Venetian culture are depicted in detailed paintings of a city transformed at carnival. Gondola models illustrate the exquisite craftsmanship and elegance of canal life and travel. Palace and country living are brought to life by resplendent costumes, silk waistcoats, gloves, and handbags, as well as furnishings and delicate, rare Venetian glass objects, for which the city is still so well known. Theater and opera—vital elements in Venetian life and imagination—are represented through paintings, decorative arts, and a full-scale puppet theater lent by the Casa Goldoni of Venice especially for this exhibition.
The exhibition is originated by NOMA, organized by the Contemporanea Progetti, and guest-curated by Giandomenico Romanelli.
Of note for anyone in the Boston area next Tuesday; from Harvard:
David Pullins | The Shape of Painting: Eighteenth-Century Departures from the Rectangle
Harvard University, Cambridge, 7 March 2017
Informed by questions asked explicitly by twentieth-century painters (Johns, Stella, Murray) about the relationship between image and support, this talk engages with the wildly irregular formats produced in response to decorative programs in eighteenth-century France. While developing an historical understanding of the conditions that produced this pervasive (yet entirely unstudied) category of painting, the talk’s primary aim is to address what can be learned about the crises and limits of painting through this early modern departure from the rectangle. Tuesday, 7 March 2017, 5:00pm, Barker Center 133.
David Pullins is a Lecturer at MIT.
Image: Jacques de Lajoüe, Optics, ca. 1734 (private collection).
François Gérard Jollain, Almanac (detail), ‘The August Portraits of the First Born Sons of Our Kings That Have Had the Title of Dauphin’ (Louis XV, the Queen, and the Dauphin surrounded by courtiers and other nations with a family tree of French kings), 1734; etching and engraving, 84 × 51 cm (Waddesdon Manor, National Trust, 2669.3.17; photo: Mike Fear).
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Opening next month at Waddesdon:
Glorious Years: French Calendars from Louis XIV to the Revolution
Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, 22 March — 29 October 2017
Curated by Rachel Jacobs
Glorious Years is a celebration of the power of the printed image before photography—an exhibition of rare calendars, published in Paris in the 17th and 18th centuries, from their golden period under Louis XIV, through to the Revolution, when time itself was re-invented, with new ways of illustrating and naming the days and years.
Despite their popularity, these calendars (originally named ‘almanacs’) have not survived in great numbers. They were replaced annually and were easily damaged due to their large sizes. The depicted major events, from royal weddings, and births to victorious battles and peace treaties and were designed to inform and delight the public, while glorifying the king and his image. These rare prints can be enjoyed as works of art and as important historic documents, revealing much about the social, political, and artistic world of the Old Regime.
A number of bound pocketbook almanacs are also included in the exhibition. These small volumes were extremely popular towards the end of the 18th century. They vary hugely in content, but all contain a calendar within. Some are official directories, listing members of the royal households, schedules for the post and carriage travel; others are for amusement, containing songs, poems, illustrations and even erasable paper for recording gambling gains and losses. These small pocketbooks are not dissimilar to our modern-day smart phones, perfectly suited to distract, amuse, and inform.
In a time before photography, the printed image was the most effective communicator. Images were everywhere and consumed by all. The exhibition will explore the context in which these almanacs were made and consider how these everyday prints and books were used to educate, delight, impress, and express the official print programme of the court and the later revolutionary government.
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839–1898) was as fascinated by social history and printed ephemera—such as trade cards and lottery tickets—as he was by the finest English and French art of the 18th century. His collection of over 70 almanacs is unique in the UK, and it is the first time some 30 of these prints will be on public display. All the prints in the exhibition have been conservation cleaned, remounted, and digitised and will be available to browse and research on the website alongside our other collections of printed ephemera, including trade cards, board games, and prints from the French Revolution.
Selections from the UK’s Government Art Collection as displayed in its current storage facility off Tottenham Court Road; photo from a blog posting (5 March 2014) at Please Don’t Touch The Dinosaurs, which noted the introduction of lunchtime tours of the GAC.
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As reported by The Art Newspaper (February 2017), p. 10.
The UK’s Government Art Collection (GAC) plans to set up its own gallery. This will open up a huge collection of 14,000 works, mainly by British artists, which is not easily accessible.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which oversees the GAC, says that the collection’s offices and stores will be moved to new premises in London which should include a “display space that everyone will be able to enjoy.” Entry will presumably be free. The location and timing have not yet been announced.
At present, the collection is stored in Queen’s Yard, just off Tottenham Court Road, in central London. The stores are not environmentally controlled to museum standards, which is another reason for the move. . .
Of the 14,000 works, around one-third are in store, with most of the remainder hanging in 100 government offices in the UK and 270 offices abroad, where there is very limited public access. . .
The works are nearly all by British artists, although there are a few paintings made by foreigners of British subjects. They date from the 16th century to the present. . .
Press release (23 February 2017) from Gov.UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport:
A rare Georgian barometer is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £160,000. Culture Minister Matt Hancock has placed a temporary export bar on the George III mahogany wheel barometer to provide an opportunity to keep it in the country. The piece is one of a small number of its design known to have been made by the renowned Whitehurst family of clockmakers, from Derby. It is one of only nine of this type known to exist, none of which are known to be in a UK public collection.
During the reign of King George III natural philosophy had become increasingly popular, with scientific instruments finding their way into the homes of the elite classes. The ornate decoration of this instrument indicates that it was intended for this purpose. The possible association of the barometer with John Whitehurst makes this item of particular interest. As a clockmaker, instrument maker, and natural philosopher, he was a member of the Lunar Society, became Stamper of Money Weights at the Mint, was painted by Joseph Wright, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: “This beautiful barometer is more than just an instrument: it also gives us a glimpse into the 18th-century home and the increased interest in natural philosophy at the time. As a rare and important item associated with a significant regional workshop, this fine piece offers an intriguing possibility for further study. I very much hope that we can keep it in the UK for this purpose.”
The decision to defer the export licence follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by The Arts Council.
RCEWA member Christopher Rowell said: “The scientifically sophisticated design of this rare Whitehurst barometer is matched by the high quality of the carved mahogany case. No other Whitehurst barometer of this model is in a British public collection, and its retention in this country is therefore highly desirable.”
The RCEWA made its recommendation on the grounds of the barometer’s outstanding significance to the study of the Whitehurst family’s work. The decision on the export licence application for the barometer will be deferred until 22 April 2017. This may be extended until 22 July 2017 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £160,000 (plus VAT of £2,000). Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the barometer should contact the RCEWA.
Released in October from Yale UP:
Max Page, Why Preservation Matters (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016), 224 pages, ISBN: 978 03002 18589, $25.
Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, a critique of the preservation movement—and a bold vision for its future
Every day, millions of people enter old buildings, pass monuments, and gaze at landscapes unaware that these acts are possible only thanks to the preservation movement. As we approach the October 2016 anniversary of the United States National Historic Preservation Act, historian Max Page offers a thoughtful assessment of the movement’s past and charts a path toward a more progressive future.
Page argues that if preservation is to play a central role in building more-just communities, it must transform itself to stand against gentrification, work more closely with the environmental sustainability movement, and challenge societies to confront their pasts. Touching on the history of the preservation movement in the United States and ranging the world, Page searches for inspiration on how to rejuvenate historic preservation for the next fifty years. This illuminating work will be widely read by urban planners, historians, and anyone with a stake in the past.
Max Page is a professor of architecture and history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, author of The City’s End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction, and winner of the Spiro Kostof Award from the Society of Architectural Historians, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize. He lives in Amherst, MA.
Now on view at the Scuderie del Quirinale:
The Universal Museum: From Napoleon’s Dream to Canova
Il Museo Universale: Dal sogno di Napoleone a Canova
Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome, 16 December 2016 — 12 March 2017
Curated by Valter Curzi, Carolina Brook, and Claudio Parisi Presicce
A major exhibition recounting the recovery of Italy’s masterpieces from France—from Raffaello to Titian, from the Carracci to Guido Reni, Tintoretto, and Canova.
It was in 1816 that the Papal States’ masterpieces of art and archaeology returned to Rome after the Napoleonic confiscations. This event was preceded and accompanied by other administrations of the peninsula recovering many of more than 500 paintings that had been confiscated throughout the Italian territories in the course of French military campaigns from 1796 to 1814 and packed off to Paris where they were selected for display in the embryonic Musée du Louvre.
As the works of art that had been taken to France began to return home, the whole of Italy was confronted with the problem of what to do with the thousands of paintings and sculptures that had been removed from churches and convents after the religious orders had been suppressed in the early 19th century. The fate of the Musée du Louvre as a universal museum, the loss of several masterpieces of art remained in France, and most of all the sheer mass of paintings now in state ownership and stored in improvised warehouses, fuelled a lively debate on the public value of art heritage and fostered the foundation of museums that still number among the country’s leading cultural institutions today, including the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, and the Pinacoteca in Bologna.
It was in these and other museums in Italy and abroad, which looked with interest to the Louvre’s experience, that a revisitation of art history began and eventually led to significant progress being made in the fields both of scholarship and of the public display of cultural heritage. Thus the aim of this exhibition is to retrace the salient phases in these historical events but also—indeed above all—to offer a critical interpretation capable of stimulating today’s audiences to appreciate the value that our national cultural heritage acquired in those years, when it was seen for the first time as a key tool for educating citizens and at the same time as playing a linchpin role in a common European identity. This interpretation remains absolutely relevant and topical, which is why the exhibition sets out also to trigger an occasion to reflect on the cultural heritage as a primary terrain for the definition of a common European language.
Valter Curzi, Carolina Brook, and Claudio Parisi Presicce, Il Museo Universale: Dal sogno di Napoleone a Canova (Milan: Skira, 2017), 312 pages, ISBN: 978 88572 34939, £40.
Available from Oakeley Books:
Alan Humphries, Henry Oakeley, and Victor Hoffbrand, English Delftware Apothecary Jars and Their Contents: The Victor Hoffbrand Collection (London: Oakley Books, 2017), ISBN: 978 0952 146131 (hardcover), £20 / ISBN: 978 0952 146148 (softcover), £12.
This collection of apothecary jars—used for storing medicines and their ingredients—comprises 183 items, dating from the 1640s to 1745. Collected by Professor Victor Hoffbrand, FRCP, it is the largest privately owned collection of English delftware apothecary jars in the United Kingdom. The fascination with English tin-glazed or delftware apothecary jars lies in their hand-painted designs and drug labels, in the composition and therapeutic uses of the drugs they contained, in the individual apothecaries who owned them, and in the potteries that manufactured them. The beauty of the jars’ designs may have helped to convince customers of the efficacy of their contents in treating and possibly curing diseases. For those interested in ceramics or the history of plant-based medicines, this sourcebook is complete with bibliographies, biographies, and glossaries of technical terms and materia medica.
Victor Hoffbrand is a professor of haematology. His collection of nearly 200 English delftware jars is now the second largest in the world and can be seen at the Royal College of Physicians in London.
Alan Humphries is a librarian at the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds. He is responsible for the museum’s collections of over 10,000 books and 15,000 trade catalogues. To date he has located 2,419 English apothecary jars and has made their study his special interest.
Henry Oakeley is a garden fellow at the RCP. From contemporary pharmacopoeias, he has identified the 135 different medicines that the Hoffbrand apothecary jars contained and the plants (from Acorus to Zedoary), snakes, birds, and minerals that were used to manufacture those medicines.
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Book Launch: English Delftware Apothecary Jars
Royal College of Physicians, London, Thursday, 30 March 2017, 6:30–8:30
The evening begins with refreshments and a welcome by former RCP president Sir Richard Thompson. Short talks by Victor Hoffbrand, Alan Humphries, and Henry Oakeley will be followed by questions from the audience and a book signing. Copies of the book will be available to purchase (hardback £20, softback £12). Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, 24 March.
From UNM Press:
Kelly Donahue-Wallace, Jerónimo Antonio Gil and the Idea of the Spanish Enlightenment (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2017), 392 pages, ISBN: 978 08263 57342, $65.
Examining the career of a largely unstudied eighteenth-century engraver, this book establishes Jerónimo Antonio Gil, a man immersed within the complicated culture and politics of the Spanish empire, as a major figure in the history of both Spanish and Mexican art. Donahue-Wallace examines Gil as an artist, tracing his education, entry into professional life, appointment to the Mexico City mint, and foundation of the Royal Academy of the Three Noble Arts of San Carlos. She analyzes the archival and visual materials he left behind; and, most importantly, she considers the ideas, philosophies, and principles of his era, those who espoused them, and how Gil responded to them. Although frustrated by resistance from the faculty and colleagues he brought to his academy, Gil would leave a lasting influence on the Mexican art scene as local artists continued to benefit from his legacy at the Mexican academy.
Kelly Donahue-Wallace is professor of art history at the University of North Texas. She is the author of Art and Architecture of Viceregal Latin America, 1521–1821 (UNM Press).
From Anthem Press:
Mary-Ann Constantine and Nigel Leask, eds., Enlightenment Travel and British Identities: Thomas Pennant’s Tours of Scotland and Wales (London: Anthem Press, 2017), 250 pages, ISBN: 978 17830 86535, £70 / $115.
Thomas Pennant of Downing, Flintshire (1726–1798), naturalist, antiquarian and self-styled ‘Curious Traveller’, published accounts of his pioneering travels in Scotland and Wales to wide acclaim between 1769 and 1784, directly inspiring Dr Johnson, James Boswell and hundreds of subsequent tourists. A keen observer and cataloguer of plants, birds, minerals and animals, Pennant corresponded with a trans-continental network of natural scientists (Linnaeus, Simon Pallas, Joseph Banks, Gilbert White) and was similarly well-connected with leading British antiquarians (William Borlase, Francis Grose, Richard Gough). Frequently cited as witness or authority across a wide range of disciplines, Pennant’s texts have seldom been themselves the focus of critical attention. There is as yet no biography of Pennant, nor any edition of his prolific correspondence with many of the leading minds of the European Enlightenment.
The ‘Tours’ were widely read and much imitated. As annotated copies reveal, readers were far from passive in their responses to the text, and ‘local knowledge’ would occasionally be summoned to challenge or correct them. But Pennant indisputably helped bring about a richer, more complex understanding of the multiple histories and cultures of Britain at a time when ‘Britishness’ was itself a fragile and developing concept. Because the ‘Tours’ drew on a vast network of informants (often incorporating material wholesale), they are, as texts, fascinatingly multi-voiced: many of the period’s political tensions run through them.
This volume of eleven essays seeks to address the comparative neglect of Pennant’s travel writing by bringing together researchers from literary criticism, art history, Celtic studies, archaeology and natural history. Attentive to the visual as well as textual aspects of his topographical enquiries, it demonstrates how much there is to be said about the cross-currents (some pulling in quite contrary directions) in Pennant’s work. In so doing they rehabilitate a neglected aspect of the Enlightenment in relation to questions of British identity, offering a new assessment of an important chapter in the development of domestic travel writing.
Mary-Ann Constantine is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. She has written widely on the Romantic period in Wales and Brittany.
Nigel Leask is Regius Chair in English Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow. He divides his time between Glasgow, the West Highlands, and Mexico.
C O N T E N T S
List of Figures and Plates
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Thomas Pennant, Curious Traveller — Mary-Ann Constantine and Nigel Leask
1 ‘A round jump from ornithology to antiquity’: The Development of Thomas Pennant’s Tours — R. Paul Evans
2 Thomas Pennant: Some Working Practices of an Archaeological Travel-Writer in Late Eighteenth-Century Britain — C. Stephen Briggs
3 Heart of Darkness: Thomas Pennant and Roman Britain — Mary-Ann Constantine
4 Constructing Identities in the Eighteenth Century: Thomas Pennant and the Early Medieval Sculpture of Scotland and England — Jane Hawkes
5 Shaping a Heroic Life: Thomas Pennant on Owen Glyndwr — Dafydd Johnston
6 ‘The First Antiquary of his Country’: Robert Riddell’s Extra-Illustrated and Annotated Volumes of Thomas Pennant’s Tours in Scotland — Ailsa Hutton and Nigel Leask
7 ‘A galaxy of the blended lights’: The Reception of Thomas Pennant — Elizabeth Edwards
8 ‘As if created by fusion of matter after some intense heat’: Pioneering Geological Observations in Thomas Pennant’s Tours of Scotland — Tom Furniss
9 Geological Landscape as Antiquarian Ruin: Banks, Pennant and the Isle of Staffa — Allison Ksiazkiewicz
10 Pennant, Hunter, Stubbs and the Pursuit of Nature — Helen McCormack
11 Pennant’s Legacy: The Popularization of Natural History through Botanical Touring and Observation in Nineteenth-Century Wales — Caroline R. Kerkham
Short Bibliography of Thomas Pennant’s Tours in Scotland and Wales